September 30, 2014

Medina
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Judge orders Amish girl to return to chemo

MEDINA — A Medina County judge ordered an Amish family Wednesday to resume chemotherapy treatments for their 10-year-old daughter, who is battling cancer, following a ruling by an appeals court last week.

Sarah Hershberger begged her parents, Andy and Anna, of Homer Township, to stop the treatments after experiencing negative side-effects, according to court records. The family started using natural medicine instead, like vitamins and herbs.

Akron Children’s Hospital sued over the summer to continue the girl’s treatments. The case has bounced back and forth between county Probate Court and the 9th District Court of Appeals since August.

Probate Judge Kevin W. Dunn appointed hospital attorney and registered nurse Maria Schimer as a limited guardian for the girl. The girl’s parents will retain custody, but Schimer will be responsible for making the girl’s medical decisions and arranging transportation for treatments.

Schimer will retain guardianship until Feb. 1, 2016, when the girl is expected to complete treatments.

Under guardianship, the girl’s medical costs will be paid through government programs. The family “will owe nothing for any treatment obtained under this guardianship,” Dunn wrote.

An Akron Children’s Hospital spokeswoman said administrators were pleased with the result of the case.

“Akron Children’s looks forward to working with the girl’s family and the guardian to resume her life-saving treatment,” a hospital spokeswoman said.

The family’s attorney, John Oberholtzer, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

In August, Oberholtzer said his clients view the case as a religious matter, so the situation is in the hands of God.

Without chemotherapy, hospital physicians said the girl would die in a year or less. With treatments, they said she has an 85 percent chance of survival.

Potential side-effects of chemotherapy include infertility, weakness and organ failure.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.